Friday, May 26, 2017

SKY CATS FELINE FRIDAY


Here are Brisbane and Hobart, sound to sleep in the window more than 10 stories up.  

Of course, Hobart got the spot on the desk because he likes to stretch out and lay on his side, Brisbane takes the window ledge because the warmth feels good on his old bones. 

When we first moved in to the apartment, they were wary of the windows...now we can't keep them away. 


Thursday, May 25, 2017

GARDEN TOTEM POLE INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Painted garden totems, image via Pinterest
Since much of what I'd normally do outside in the Winter, getting the garden built or the fruit trees planted, is now done, I'm starting to be on the lookout for Winter projects.  These are just something random that fascinate us and something I think I could handle, artistically, ha.

We'd like some yard art to scatter around the property for some interest and something handmade would be really nice. Maybe THIS Winter I can finally relax while visiting the farm and unleash my creative side in a different way!

Be inspired!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ROASTED DUCKFAT POTATOES

We tried something new the other night.  We have seen this used on cooking shows and found some at the local grocery specialty store.

Classic rendered duck fat
Rendered duck fat.  Apparently it was something we had to try at least once.  And now we see why!

Fingerling potatoes 
We bought some purple and yellow fingerling potatoes and just sliced them in half lengthwise and put them on a foil lined baking sheet.  


2nd Man used gloves because the fat melted via body heat and he didn't want to lose half of it to moisturizing his hands (though I bet they would be nice and smooth, ha).  He scooped it out and rubbed it all over the potatoes, turning them to coat all sides and then sprinkled it all with a bit of salt.

Duck fat roasted potatoes
Then he put them in a 425 degree oven and roasted them for about 15 or 20 minutes, or until the fat started to turn them golden.

Steak with duck fat roasted potatoes 
We served them with steak and they were so delicious.  Now this isn't 100% pure duck fat like you might get from a butcher, but that's our next thing to try.  This was really really good and now we understand why "duck fat" is a magical ingredient.  

Update:  We forgot about sharing the "why".  It does add a rich flavor but it's kind of hard to describe.  It's almost like if you roasted potatoes plain and then coated them in butter and roasted them...it would be hard to describe that butter flavor.  Duck fat is rich, adds a silky texture but has a delicate flavor, more of the elusive "umami" flavor as was mentioned below.  Because it has a high smoke point you can roast at the higher temps without smoking and changing flavor and end up with the golden spots of color.   

Anyone ever used it?  
Or used fresh rendered duck fat?  


Monday, May 22, 2017

REALLY GOOD WEEKEND HARVEST


So what is this?  
A farmer's market cart?  
Grocery store produce section?  

Harvest cart
Believe it or not, this is our harvest from this weekend!  Yep.  Things are coming in fast and furiously, ha.

Purple top white globe turnips
Here are the turnips.  Still a few more in the ground but this is a big first batch.  We planted these to see how things would work for us.  Um, apparently very well!  Any good turnip recipes/uses?  
Best way to store them?

Garden harvest
And here are five eggplants, some cylindra beets, okra, a few carrots, and a bunch of jalapeños!

Huge cucumber harvest
Here are the cucumbers, more than two dozen!  They are going CRAZY.  I swear, I think they grow hour by hour.  I harvested some in the morning and before we left, 10 more grew in their place. OK, so maybe I just overlooked them the first time around, ha!  I have plans for pickle making but they are growing so fast I can't keep up.  They seem a bit too long for slicing into spears, what about "sliced pickles".  Anyone have advice on that?  I know I could Google but I wondered if any tried and true canners out there have some good tips for this.  I'm definitely trying the microwave bread and butter pickles that sweet Texas Rose left in the comments last week, but that will give us a few jars, what about the rest?   

Overripe cucumbers
Speaking of, apparently I REALLY overlooked three of them.  Yep, that orange one is a cucumber!  I had no idea they turned orange.  The orange one alone  weighed a bit over 2 lbs!

Looks like we're on our way to a great season this year.  Tomatoes are still a bit up in the air, one plant looks great and they are all green but the other plant looks weaker and two of the green tomatoes on it have been eaten (possibly birds).  But we know tomatoes are resilient.  We should have zucchini this coming weekend as well.  It looks like it might be a "hiding vegetable" too.  We'll see!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

RAINY WEEKEND UPDATE


When we got to the farm, it wasn't too bad.  Hot and VERY humid but overcast and a bit of a breeze.  I got a lot done and the garden haul was awesome 
(post on the that tomorrow).  


Remember when I left last weekend I sprayed a second coat of the siding cleaner?  Well here it is week later.  White and bright and clear of mold/mildew.  It works great!


But alas, all good things must come to an end and by late in the day it was getting darker and darker.  We decided to head back into town.  

Storm front moving in
Here is a view from the apartment as one of the storm cells moved over.  It didn't drop a lot of rain here in downtown but 2nd Family said it was about 3/4" of at the farm (last night). 

Fruit infused water
I took the time to make a couple more infused waters.  One strawberry and lemon...and the other one lemon and cucumber (from our garden!).   
They are SO good.  

Bacon and eggs
For breakfast this rainy morning we had some farm fresh eggs, and for those that mentioned it last time, I told 2nd Man to make them scrambled, and of course a side of some thick sliced bacon.  
Simple but delicious! 

Cats watching bird 
And best of all, we sprinkled some birdseed on the balcony and the cats have been GLUED to the windows ALL morning.  Hobart lays as flat as he can possibly get, Brisbane sits there frozen in place and slaps the window occasionally.  The dove however is not fazed.  She's got food to eat.  

Hope you are having a good weekend!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

BEAT THE RAIN GAME AGAIN

We're off to the farm and the original plan was to spend the night.  But, the weather is supposed to get  possibly severe tonight and then into all day Sunday.  




Since we both have to go to work Monday, we can't take a chance of getting stuck out there in a big rain.  So it's out there today to do what we can before the weather moves in later.  2nd Family says no mowing will be necessary because we haven't had any rain in a couple of weeks and I mowed last weekend.

So we'll find some projects to do, and I'll take lots of pictures as always and check in later!


Friday, May 19, 2017

GRANDMA'S VINTAGE QUILT

Here is something I spread out recently to check out as it's been in storage for years.  This is a quilt that my Grandmother made a LONG time ago.  


It's hard to describe though.  One side is made up of random fabric squares, probably from old clothing and fabric scraps.


Just a random collection of them sewed together. The filling between the front and back is also very heavy.  But when you flip it over, the other side is...


...made up of my Grandfather's old jeans and overalls!  You can even see where there were repairs made once upon a time. 

Old blue jeans and overalls quilt
So the entire other side is just squares of blue jeans, khaki colored overalls and even the traditional blue striped ones (those are the ones I most often remember him wearing).  Needless to say, this is HEAVY, but I remember when I was little and visited them, this was my favorite one to sleep under.  

It's a different kind of quilt than you might normally see, not even sure what you'd call it other than random patchwork.  We have a bunch of the more traditional quilts as well, flowers, kittens, dutch girls/boys, stars, etc. we'll share pictures of them on the blog as we pull them out.  

Love old quilts with so many memories.  


Thursday, May 18, 2017

SMALL GREENHOUSE, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!


One thing that's on the dream list for the farm is a greenhouse.  However, I go back and forth between a large(ish) size and a smaller size.  

A larger one would be nice to have the space for small trees, setting up the seedlings for Spring, etc.   But realistically, our weather here is usually fairly mild in Winter and I'm not sure we'd have a need for the space and footprint that a big one would take up.  There is not that much we'd have to put in there and that's when the small size comes back into focus.

 When we see something like this, I fall in love with small all over again.  Seems like the perfect size for holding seedlings, a few bush type plants or small saplings for a few days of freezing weather...with the added benefit of looking kinda fabulous!

Be inspired!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MACERATED DEWBERRIES OVER ICE CREAM RECIPE


Here is something else we did with our dewberries we have growing at the farm.  Weekend before last, we managed to get one more small batch.  

Fresh Dewberries
I put them in a canning jar to bring them back into town.  It wasn't enough for a cobbler or to make some jam, so we did the next best thing.


All we did was add about half a cup of sugar to the berries in a bowl.  You could use any berry in this process, they will all break down with time.

Dewberries and Sugar
Stir it all around.  We mashed a few of the berries while stirring and let the natural process of breaking down kickstart the work.

Macerating Dewberries
Of course, this natural process is called maceration.  It usually involves adding a liquid but the sugar and semi mashed berries draw out natural liquid so it's pretty close to maceration.  No cooking, just let them sit for about 30 minutes or an hour, stirring occasionally.  As the sugar breaks down the berries, it all becomes a lovely sauce with a vibrant berry flavor.

Bluebell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Be sure to take the ice cream out of the fridge so it gets soft.  We used "Bluebell Homemade Vanilla" 
(it's a beloved Southern brand).

Dewberries over Ice Cream

All that was left to do was pour it over the vanilla ice cream and enjoy our bounty from the farm!  One of these days, we'll try our own homemade vanilla ice cream.  Might be a nice Summer treat.  


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

WEEKEND HARVEST GARDEN UPDATE

The garden is going so great this season!

Herb bed
The herbs I cut and harvest and then come back the next week and there they are again ready and waiting.  They sit there, perfectly neat little plants saying "harvest me" week after week.  We have basil, flat leaf parsley, oregano, chives, and lemon thyme.

Zucchini in raised bed
This is the zucchini.  It's H-U-G-E!  That's a 4x4 bed and it's almost filled up.  And COVERED in small zucchinis and blossoms.  We're going to have a LOT of zucchini.  I told 2nd Man to get some recipes for zucchini bread and whatever else we can find. 


Tomatoes!!  
We have several nice, large tomatoes, about six on this plant and four on the other.  And so far they are perfect and round.  


The cucumbers...
Have...
Exploded...
I thought I saw all of them last week when I harvested a bunch.


But apparently, I missed a few!  Oops, these are really big ones!  Any suggestions?  I'm sure these won't be the first I miss.  They are like hunting Easter eggs in that vine!


In addition to the large cucumbers on the porch railing in the previous picture, here is the rest of this weekend's harvest basket.  More cukes (normal sized), jalapeños, eggplant and even a few okra.  

 I'm not sure what we did right this year, but I literally stand in the gate of the garden and stare in hopeful wonder.  I just don't have to do much.  The automatic watering is working.  There are no weeds in the straw covered beds (and what few there are are pulled up in just moments).  The weedblock fabric is keeping the ground weed free as well. 
And, this time around at least, no bugs.


After a couple of hit and miss seasons, problems and changes, we finally have something that is working.  If it keeps up like this, we'll open up the other side next year.  OK, maybe too early to think ahead.

I'll catch up comments tonight!